The Seattle Sounders finished their MLS Reserve League season this week — probably for the final time.
The Sounders are expected to enter a team in USL-Pro next year, which they believe will be a better way of getting game experience for players who are not seeing regular time with the first team.
The Reserve League Sounders went 3-1-3 overall and 1-0-3 against MLS opponents. Developing players is the main priority, and coach Ezra Hendrickson said the season was a success.
“We’ve seen an improvement in Sean Okoli,” he said. “He’s coming along. Him and Aaron Kovar have shown a lot of progress. … What we’re trying to do is develop those guys so when their name gets called for the first team, there’s not a big drop off, they’re ready. … We like the progress the guys are making, and we like the way the Reserve League went.”
The reserve season ended Monday with a 1-1 draw at Colorado. The game marked the debut of defender Onyekachi Apam and the return to action of 2014 first-round pick Damion Lowe, who could figure in the Sounders’ plans for 2015, if not the rest of this season.
Apam was signed recently after playing in the French first division.
“He’s still trying to gain his fitness, so we limited his time,” Hendrickson said. “He showed that he has some experience … but it’s going to be a while before he is fit enough to really contribute in a game situation.”
Lowe recently came off the disabled list after hip surgery in April.
“Lowe was all right,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “He got through 90 minutes. That was important. Obviously, it’s rusty when you haven’t played a game (since March). That’s a long time, and you need some game time to get honed in on those decisions and so forth. But we were pleased that he was able to get through the 90 minutes and did some good things in the 90.”
Hendrickson said Lowe “did well.”
“There is some stuff tactically that we have to improve with him,” he said. “But as far as the technical aspect and as far as (one-on-one) defending, he was pretty solid.”
Aaron Long, a midfielder/defender who was signed at midseason after being released by Portland, played right back and center back on Monday.
“When we signed him, he started off playing really, really well,” Schmid said. “Then there comes that little bit of lull when you maybe don’t see first-team action. It’s tough coming in at midseason, as he’s done. But I’ve been really pleased with him, and I think he’s a guy down the line who can help the club.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid took a glass-half-full attitude toward right back DeAndre Yedlin being called to the U.S. national team this week, which will force him to miss Seattle’s home match with Vancouver on Friday. “Obviously, it’s great that Clint (Dempsey) is going to be able to be here, so we’re happy about that,” Schmid said. “DeAndre missing means another person needs to step up and play. But certainly we have to respect the decisions that are made by the national team coach.” … Defenders Zach Scott (ankle) and Leo Gonzalez (hamstring) and midfielder Gonzalo Pineda (ankle) returned to training Tuesday. Their status for Friday is day to day.